Fan suing Red Sox for $9.5 million after being injured by foul ball

Injured baseball fan Stephanie Taubin is suing the Boston Red Sox for $9.5 million following an incident during a 2014 game at Fenway Park.

According to CBS Boston, Taubin is suing the Red Sox and their owner, John Henry, for negligence after she suffered facial fractures and neurological damage from the foul ball. Taubin says the ball club didn’t do enough to protect her and other fans from being struck. Testimony in the case began last week.

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What happened?

According to Taubin’s testimony, she was sitting in the luxury boxes above home plate during a game on June 17, 2014 when she was struck in the face by a foul ball. The lawsuit states that the baseball came through an area that had been previously protected by glass. The glass was removed during ballpark renovations in 2005.

During his testimony on Friday, John Henry acknowledged the glass previously protecting what’s now known as the Dell EMC Club had been removed. He also admitted the decision made sitting in those more dangerous for fans.

The renovations have been fruitful for the Red Sox. According to WCVB, ticket revenues for the new boxes more than doubled after the team renovated the area.

How many fans have been injured at Fenway Park?

The same WCVB report, citing Red Sox records, states that at least 51 fans in the box seating area above home plate have been hit by a baseball or a bat and required medical attention.

Two weeks before Taubin’s injury, 44-year-old Tonya Carpenter suffered life-threatening injures when she was struck in the head by a broken bat during a game against the Oakland Athletics. Carpenter filed a suit against the Red Sox in 2015.

Later during the 2014 season, another fan, 36-year-old Stephanie Wapenski, required three dozen stitches after being hit in the face by a foul ball

The string of incidents at Fenway Park, in addition to injuries suffered by fans at the other ballparks, led to a push for extended netting throughout the entire league. After a handful of teams got the ball rolling, the rest of the league slowly but steadily followed suit. By the time the 2018 season started, all 30 MLB teams had installed extended netting.

The Boston Red Sox are being sued for $9.5 million by a fan who suffered serious injuries after being hit by a foul ball in 2014. (AP)
The Boston Red Sox are being sued for $9.5 million by a fan who suffered serious injuries after being hit by a foul ball in 2014. (AP)

Can she win?

It should be a considered a win for Taubin just for getting this far. Many similar cases have been dismissed quickly because of the infamous “Baseball Rule,” which widely guarantees legal immunity to teams and owners for injuries sustained by flying baseballs and bats.

The rule is rarely successfully challenged. The most notable case came in 2013, when an Idaho court ruled Bud Rountree, a fan who lost an eye from a foul ball’s impact in 2008, could sue the Boise Hawks Class A baseball team for his foul ball injury. But even that took years to attain and served as one step in a long process.

Taubin’s case may have legs based on the circumstances, but a victory, if achieved, could be a long ways away.

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